Today, the chorus launches a 100-person, five-city tour around Georgia – their first ever, according to Executive Director Keith Fenton and Artistic Director Kevin Robison.
“We felt expanding the programs we do beyond the metro Atlanta area was in alignment with our mission, which is to bring a positive message of diversity and inclusion – not just to people within the Atlanta area, but to people in smaller communities that may be searching for affirmation,” Robison says.
Friday, March 26, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 27, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta, GA
The chorus will perform in Macon, Savannah, Augusta and Athens before returning to Atlanta for two shows at Virginia Highland Baptist Church. During their four shows on the road, the chorus is partnering with local LGBT organizations that will receive 50 percent of ticket sales.
Beneficiaries include Augusta Pride, Macon’s Rainbow Center, eight Savannah organizations, and AID Athens and the Boybutante AIDS Foundation there.
The shows, supported by presenting sponsor Macy’s, are getting attention around the state, including a mention in M Food & Culture, a magazine targeting Middle Georgia. But Fenton says there has been no backlash.
“When we embark on a project like this, the notion of something like that certainly goes through your mind, and you want to keep the safety of everyone and the reputation of the organization in mind as you move forward,” he says. “We have not had any issues that we are aware of in any community. The response has been extremely positive.” The music selected for the “Georgia on My Mind” tour is based on the theme of journeys – physical, emotional and spiritual.
Selections in the first half include such diverse pieces as “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” Wagner’s “Pilgrim’s Chorus,” and of course, the titular “Georgia on My Mind.”
The second half of the show focuses on the spiritual journeys many gay people face with a revised performance of “Shaken, Not Heard: Stories of Gay Men, Faith and Reconciliation,” the chorus’ powerful, compelling concert from last spring.
Robison says the chorus expected the piece to resonate with LGBT people, but was surprised by the impact the dramatic piece had on heterosexual audiences as well.
“Everyone has to come out about something,” Robison says. “Many people have experienced some kind of conflict around religion and religious teachings that don’t gel with who they feel they are.”
After the “Georgia on My Mind” tour, the chorus will begin preparation for its summer concert, “All You Need is Love: 50 Years of Beatlemania.”
The AGMC also has major plans for growth as it celebrates its 30th year, including exploring options for creating a women’s chorus and a youth ensemble, Fenton says.
Photo: The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus will perform in five cities in eight days starting March 19. (Photo courtesy AGMC)